Raspberry Chocolate Souffles

 

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These delicious little souffles deflated faster than the camera could go “click!” by the time they were ready for their close up.  It was rather sad, but such is life.  Gotta take hold of the reigns before they fly past: life stops for no one and we always have to keep pressing forward. So press forward I did, and here we are with a delicious and surprisingly easy dessert!

Saturday night Chris went to the SMC/Gonzaga game at our alma mater (and also where we got married!) so I made these for the kids and I to enjoy as a consolation.  To be honest, we might have devoured these before dinner.  Oops! On another note, I made a couple of these without raspberries, and I must say they are not nearly as good without the raspberries! The great thing about souffle is that you can prepare the batter and pour  into the ramekins the day before, because it will keep in the fridge overnight.  This saves a lot of time, and breaks up the work quite nicely.

Don’t forget: if you’re going to put a cute, little powdered sugar heart or other design on top make sure your stencil and powdered sugar are ready to go as soon as they come out of the oven – the longer it takes for you to serve these babies the more likely they’ll deflate before they make it to the table!  A lesson learned for next time.  😉

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INGREDIENTS:

*recipe from William Sonoma’s book Home Baked Comfort

  • 7 tbsp granulated sugar, plus more for dusting the ramekins
  • 6 oz package of raspberries
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped.  I highly suggest using a high quality chocolate! It makes all the difference for this decadent, chocolate based dessert.
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, separated plus 2 egg whites
  • pinch of salt – about a 1/4 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • confectioners’ sugar for dustin

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 375F.
  2. The recipe calls for six 1-cup ramekins, but I found the recipe made 8.  Hence, butter 8 ramekins and lightly dust each with granulated sugar.
  3. In a small bowl toss the raspberries with a tablespoon of the sugar and divide among the ramekins.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring as you go.  Don’t let the chocolate burn. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  5. In your mixer, with the whip attachment, beat the egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of the sugar on medium speed until it’s thickened. Fold the chocolate mixture in.
  6. In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on medium-high speed.  When the egg whites are getting fluffy, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and beat until you have thick, stiff egg white peaks.
  7. Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins.
  8. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they are set and puffed, about 18, but not more than 20 minutes.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy before they fall!

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cheers! and Happy Valentine’s Day ♥

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M&M Holiday Cookies

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I used to make these all the time, I don’t know why it’s been a good year or so since I last made them.  It’s been a pretty busy holiday season: lots of holiday parties, birthday parties, a quick trip to Hawaii, upcoming holiday travel preparations, and other general life going-on’s, that I realized I needed an easy, reliable, and festive holiday cookie. Cue: The One and Only M&M Holiday Cookie!

I’ve had this recipe for so many years that I don’t even recall where I got it.  However, it’s a tried and true staple in my book, tested time and time again. I make them during Valentine’s Day with the pink, white, reddish colored M&M’s, on St. Patrick’s Day with green M&M’s, and even with your boring, everyday colored M&M’s when needed.  If you scoop the dough out in 1 tablespoon scoops, as I do, you end up with a solid 36 cookies. In our house, that means there’s plenty for us, and even more left over to share with the sweet neighbors who live in our little court with us. Merry Christmas!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups plus 2 tblsps all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 tblsps salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 cup M&M’s, I used Christmas colors on these

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 and place rack on upper third of the oven.

  1. Mix the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and all the sugars until they are thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Stir until mixed together.
  4. Gradually add the flour and mix until a dough forms.  You may want to use your hands to bring it all together, because it tends be a little crumbly.
  5. Fold in the M&M’s.
  6. Scoop about a tablespoon of dough out at a time and roll into balls, place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes.  I know to take them out when the edges are just barely beginning to turn brown.
  8. Let cool and enjoy!

IMG_5394Notes:

  • This a cookie that I personally prefer slightly undercooked, and that 10 minutes at 375 in the upper third of the oven does the trick!
  • Also, these cookies are so forgiving! You can melt the butter low and slow in a pan, in the microwave on high, in the microwave on low where you still have chunks of whole butter and it will come out the same, every time.

cheers!

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Happy Little Monster Treats

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I am a fan of rice krispie treats.  They’re so easy to make, cut into shapes, turn into all kinds of colors, and kids typically love them.  This particular rice krispie treat first came up on my Facebook feed late one night in September, and I knew I had to make them!

Little did I know, that in total, I would make close to 100 of these little happy monsters!  I’ve come to call them “Happy Little Monsters” because I find they put a smile on most people’s face 😉 We gave them to friends, family, and neighbors.  I made most of them for Jack’s pre school Halloween Party, and wrapped them in these cellophane bags with crinkle paper and a trick or treat tag.  They were pretty cute, and every now and then you could follow a trail of crinkle paper to the child who was eating his or her treat on the go.

It’s been quite fun making these festive treat throughout the month.  Spreading the colored spread, placing the eyeballs, even making the stamped “trick or treat” tags keeps me entertained as I sit next to Chris, while he watches whatever sports game is on tv that particular night after the kids have gone to bed.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 10oz bag of marshmallows
  • 6 cups of Rice Krispies
  • ChocoMaker Candy Wafers, choice of color
  • Candy eyes

INSTRUCTIONS

Rice Krispie Treats:

  1. In a pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add milk, vanilla extract and marshmallows. Allow the marshmallows to melt over low heat.  Don’t let the marshmallows burn, keep your heat on low and stir often.
  2. While they melt, prepare a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper along the bottom.
  3. Once the marshmallows are melted, remove from heat and mix in the rice krispies.
  4. Pour the marshmallow/rice krispie mix into the prepared baking dish and spread out in an even layer.
  5. Put them into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool and set.

Assembling Monsters:

  1. Cut the rice krispies into desired size.  I roughly cut mine into 2×4 or 2×3 inch pieces.
  2. Melt the ChocoMaker wafers in the microwave, use a silicon spatula to stir.  One treat at a time, use the spatula to help spread the colored chocomaker spread onto half of the rice krispie.
  3. Place on parchment paper and add candy eyes.
  4. Repeat until done!
  5. Put treats in cellophane bags, with crinkle cut paper.  Tie with trick or treat tags!

NOTES:

  • I made my trick or treat tags using a stamp, paper and glue.  So easy, and like I said, keeps me preoccupied next to Chris while he watches sports after the kids have gone to bed.

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cheers!

PB Honey Toast, My Way

IMG_4541.JPGLately, I find myself so over “date night”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love an evening out with my husband and friends, but “date night” has so many connotations attached to it, both positive and negative. There’s the pressure to make reservations, get dressed, have dinner planned for the kids and the sitter, arrange a date and time that works for friends (if it’s a group)… And then, you risk the fact that your kids might still be awake when you get home later that evening!! At least, if your kids are anything like mine.  On the other hand, it feels so good to get dressed up, put on some heels, try a new restaurant, and catch up with your husband and friends over a bottle of wine and good food.

A couple of weeks ago, Chris and I were debating whether we should go out one night.  We wanted some kid-free time together, but we were also exhausted after a long week.  Has anyone else been there? Please tell me we’re not the only ones…

Jack happened to be with his grandparents watching his cousins’ soccer games, and Isabelle was home with us.  In an inspired moment, Chris had the brilliant beyond brilliant idea to ask our sweet H.S neighbor girl to come watch Isabelle so we could go out! During the day! Brilliant, no?! We’ve often gone out during the day, but always with an agenda or a list of errands to accomplish in X amount of time.  This time, we had NO agenda – just me and my hubs, and the best “day date”.  We even made it home in time to make dinner for the kids, and enjoy movie night with them! It was truly, an almost perfect day.

We ended up at Coffee Shop in Walnut Creek where Chris got the most phenomenal Peanut Butter + Honey Toast.  I haven’t quite been able to stop thinking about it, so this week I made my own homemade version, topped with a dusting of cinnamon. Simple, easy, filling, and nutritious! Thanks for the inspiration Coffee Shop!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Toast, of choice.  I used Udi’s Whole Wheat Gluten Free Bread.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, I always prefer smooth PB, and think it works best with this snack.
  • 2-3 teaspoons of Honey
  • Banana, sliced.
  • Cinnamon for dusting.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Toast bread.
  2. Spread a light amount of PB, about a tablespoon.
  3. Drizzle honey over the peanut butter, 2-3 teaspoons.
  4. Slice banana to cover the toast.
  5. Dust cinnamon on top!

Note: I especially love cinnamon for it’s ability to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, any many other benefits.  Raw, local honey is amazing for its ability to relieve some allergies, and anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  In high school I would make myself a tea of hot water, honey, and cinnamon.  It was so good! Perhaps I’ll share the recipe one day…

I have had this for a light lunch numerous times this week, it’s that good and filling!

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cheers!

 

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My Go-To Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’ve shared Displaced Housewife’s, Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies before, here.  Today, I’m sharing her Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Like she says, they really are the best gluten free CCC’s ever.  You won’t need another gluten free cookie recipe after this one, trust me.  We’ve made these, over a handful of times now for all types of occasions and they never disappoint.  I plan to make them again this week for one of Jack’s preschool events.  In this world, with ever increasing food allergies and sensitivities it’s nice to have a reliable, delicious recipe that I know will satisfy both kids and adults who are gluten-free.

My favorite thing about these is that they have that slightly crunchy exterior and chewy chocolatey interior – which makes for the perfect cookie, in my opinion. 🙂

Also, don’t skimp on chilling the dough.  It makes all the difference between a “blah-whatever-it’s okay-cookie”, and a “wow, that’s a really good cookie!”  When I take the time to chill the dough my husband always says “these are really good” with those raised eyebrows, head bopping up and down happily.  However, when I don’t take the time to chill the dough, they’re a boring “eh” no excitement whatsoever…. so: chill yo’ dough!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 stick, 4 ounces, unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed tight
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seed oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups gluten-free flour (I’ve always used cup4cup)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put the stick of unsalted butter in a small sauce pan and melt over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, continue to stir, and watch the butter as it starts to crackle and pop.  Little golden bits will settle into the bottom of the pan, and over the course of a couple of minutes stop crackling and popping.  This is the sign that your butter is done browning and you can turn the stove off, and remove the pan from heat. Transfer into a medium heat proof bowl and let cool.
  2. Add the sunflower seed oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla to the browned butter. Whisk together until entirely incorporated.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk the gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the brown butter mixture and mix together. Add the chocolate chips.
  5. Pick up all the cookie dough and put it on top of plastic saran wrap, and wrap it up! Put in the fridge for a couple of hours, or even overnight!
  6. To bake, heat the oven to 375.
  7. Roll little balls of dough, all roughly the same size, and place onto a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). Bake for about 12 minutes.
  8. When done baking, cookies are slightly browned around the edges and tops, remove from oven and let cool completely!
  9. ENJOY!

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cheers!

An Easter Carrot Cake for Beginners

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Easter is always my favorite holiday. Christmas is wonderful and special, and has so much anticipation built up to it that makes for so much fun and excitement. However, because it’s couched between Thanksgiving, New Years, and the general holiday craze, it can be a bit overwhelming with so much activity.  But, not Easter! Instead, Easter has a quiet start with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday and slowly builds up with the coming of Spring, before Easter Sunday.

Chris volunteered me to bring carrot cake for Easter dinner this year.  I was more than happy to oblige because I love any excuse to bake 😉 In our home carrot cake season starts in February when Chris requests it as his birthday cake – it’s his favorite so I’m making it my duty to find (or create) the most perfect carrot cake recipe in the world.  If you have one, feel free to send it my way.  So far, this recipe is as close as we’ve gotten.  I’ve made it a handful of times now and it comes out moist and delicious every time — even when I think “uh oh, this time it’s going to fail me” it doesn’t! It’s a great cake for every spring occasion: bridal showers, baby showers, engagement parties, dinner parties, baptisms etc…

I call it a “beginners” carrot cake because I have actually memorized this recipe – that’s how easy it is! It’s a one bowl recipe.  Mix the oil and sugar, add the eggs, sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, add the grated carrots, raisins, pecans – and boom you’re done! …. well, after it spends almost an hour in the oven.  🙂

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INGREDIENTS:                                                                                                                         *Recipe adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking Layered Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups finely grated and peeled carrots – I peel them and then place in my mini Cuisinart food processor to grind.  I use my mini food processor more than I ever would have imagined, it’s one of my favorites.
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease 2 8inch round cake pans.
  2. Using a stand mixer, or large bowl and hand mixer, beat the sugar and vegetable oil until thoroughly combined.  Add the eggs 1 at a time.  I make sure each egg has been entirely mixed in before adding the next.  It only takes a few seconds for each egg.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into the sugar/oil/egg mixture.  I place this strainer over my stand mixer and put all the dry ingredients into the strainer to “sift” through to the sugar/oil/egg mixture.  Stir in the carrots, raisins, and pecans.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Try to divid the batter equally between both pans! Bake about 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let cakes cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting: use either the wire whip attachment on your stand mixer, or a handheld mixer, and whip together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract until it is creamy and smooth.
  6. Put one cake layer on a cake plate and spread with frosting.  Then put the other cake on top and spread with frosting.  Enjoy!

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Cheers!

The Only Cookie Recipe You Need this Holiday Season

img_1102These Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies were love at first sight! I first fell in love with them when I saw them on Displaced Housewife’s Instagram post, before I even saw the recipe or tasted them.  She created these cookies, and they are incredible.  They could be one of my most favorite cookie I’ve ever made to date.  Yeah, they’re that good.  I’ve given them to family, neighbors, friends, more family, people on the airplane.  My kids have devoured them – I almost let them eat them for breakfast.  ALMOST.  I figured they had pumpkin in them, but then I came to my senses and peeled them a banana.

I have this thing with pumpkin.  I love everything pumpkin EXCEPT Pumpkin Pie.  It’s just a too much pumpkin, not enough spice, not enough dough, weird textured pie.  I’ll reluctantly eat it smothered with ice cream and drenched with whipped cream, but that doesn’t count, does it?   Alas, maybe next year I’ll figure out a Pumpkin Pie recipe I can eat like a normal person, with a little dollop of whipped cream and nothing else.  I suppose it bothers me that I don’t like pumpkin pie because I like pumpkin everything (else) pumpkin: pumpkin bread, pumpkin gelato, pumpkin scones, pumpkin cookies… and hope you enjoy these pumpkin cookies like I have!

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I’ve made these cookies using both sunflower oil, as the recipe calls for, and grape seed oil and they were equally good.  I could not taste a difference.

I also made them with semi sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips and I think the pumpkin tastes much better with the semi sweet chocolate chips – but you decide

Cheers!